Reading the Bible in the American Context

Roy A. Harrisville

Article Type: Article

Publication Date: 4/1/1992

Issue: The Church in the Americas since 1492 (Vol. 12, No 2, Spring, 1992)

My reflection on the shape that reading the Bible has taken in this country, and how the “American experience” has shaped that reading, is hardly complete, and certainly not gospel truth. If we have learned anything from our historical studies in these last years, it is that what we know we know only in a limited way, and that whatever encounter with history we may enjoy comes to us as gift, not guaranteed through our methods. By way of a sampling from the history of American reading of the Bible—correction, from the history of American “scholarly” reading of the Bible—I will attempt to characterize what might be called the “typically American.” The characterization may limp, but if it furnishes some modicum of stimulus to another better equipped for access to reality, well and good.

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